RED PLANET SALT FLATS TOUR UYUNI - 3 DAYS

Price:
$210.00
Ask a question (12)

Red Planet Expeditions are the most popular choice for travellers visiting the salt flats of Uyuni. This is our  best selling, mid-range salt flats tour option and includes an English-speaking guide. Red Planet are one of the most experienced, safe and reliable companies for the Uyuni Salt Flats and have been for a number of years and for this reason they do fill up in advance. First night in double or triple room accommodation. We are the number one booking agency for Red Planet Salt Flats Tours and can highly recommend this option.

Overview

Trips to the Salar de Uyuni are an unforgettable experience but unfortunately the general standard of facilities and services are not very high in this remote area. We would like to make it clear that things are not as reliable, comfortable and professional as we would like on these tours so for this reason we do not promise more than what you will receive for your money. The accommodations and food will be basic. Due to the harshness of the terrain vehicle breakdowns are common. Still interested? Good, you should be because if you can put up with a bit of hardship you should have a great time. Take some extra snacks, plenty of warm clothes and a sleeping bag (can be rented) and the accommodations won’t feel so bad. The drivers are used to breakdowns and are pretty adept at fixing their vehicles, they are always willing to help each other out and you are usually not stuck for long - so a bit of patience is often all you need. We believe if you are informed truthfully about the possible negative aspects of the tours you can prepare yourself better and will have a more positive experience.

Click here to go to the Salar de Uyuni - Salt Flats Tours Category Page

The following is a typical tour but sometimes some things are omitted from a tour (for example during rainy season), sometimes additional things are included (such as train cemetery visit at the start or end of the trip) so this shouldn’t be seen as a rigid itinerary, although the most popular main sites are always included. If there is something you really want included your group should stress this to your driver at the start of the tour so he can plan accordingly.

Red Planet Expeditions are the most popular choice for travellers visiting the salt flats of Uyuni. This is our  best selling, mid-range salt flats tour option and includes an English-speaking guide. Red Planet are one of the most experienced, safe and reliable companies for the Uyuni Salt Flats and have been for a number of years and for this reason they do fill up in advance. First night in double or triple room accommodation. We are the number one booking agency for Red Planet Salt Flats Tours and can highly recommend this option.

Itinerary

DAY 1 – Uyuni – Colchani – Incahuasi – Atulcha

We meet at the office and leave Uyuni in the morning around 10.30 / 11:00 am and first visit the train cemetery where you can see the old rusting trains from decades ago. After this we continue to Colchani and witness how the salt is processed. We have lunch in the village and then move onto the salt flats themselves. We will see where the salt has been laced in mounds ready to be transported, the original Playa Blanca salt hotel (no longer used for guests) and visit Inca Huasi Island to see the giant cacti and have great views of the salt flats all around. There will be plenty of time for taking amazing photos and the salt before we head toward the village of Atulcha where we will spend the night (the salt hotel is called Nuevo Amanecer). If time allows, you might also have the chance to see the sunset on the salt flats (this depends on season and cannot be guaranteed, but is usually possible).

DAY 2 – Atulcha – Lagunas  Laguna Colorada – Geysers – Hot springs – Polques

We awake early and have breakfast before leaving to travel further south. You will first have the chance to visit the Sora Canyon and see llamas in their natural environment before continuing through the Chuguana desert area where the scenery will include a number of extinct volcanoes plus the semiactive Ollague. As the journey continues we will pass by high altitude lagoons that are home to 3 species of flamingo before arriving into the desert of Siloli and the “tree of rock”. We then move onto the “Laguna Colorada”, an amazing red colored lake full of flamingos. Here is where we enter the Eduardo Avaroa National Park. In late afternoon we then go to visit the “Sol de Mañana” geysers and see the bubbling mud pools and steam jets. We will then continue to Polques where we find the hostel where we will spend the night. After dinner, you can decide to relax in the warm water pools of the local hot springs while enjoying the breathtaking starry sky.

DAY 3 – Polques – Dalí Desert  Laguna Verde – Uyuni

Today we have an early start at 6.00 am and have breakfast. We then continue our trip via the “Dali desert” (only visible from afar) to see “Laguna Verde” where, if conditions are correct, we see the green mineral waters of this lake at the foot of Volcan Licancabur (from here we do the transfers to San Pedro de Atacama -  there is an additional fee for this transfer and it is available on 3 day tour only, you arrive in San Pedro approximately midday). We then start our return journey back to Uyuni where we arrive approximately 16.30 / 17.00, perfectly on time if having a late flight or an overnight bus back to La Paz.

Included / Not Included

INCLUDED

  • Transportation in 4x4 vehicle 
  • English-speaking guide
  • Driver (sometimes guide can also be driver depending on availability)
  • Meals during the tour (take extra snacks as food can be quite plain)
  • 1 night accommodation in a salt hotel (double/triple/quadruple rooms, most of them with private bathroom, some with shared - depends on availability)
  • 1 night accommodation in basic hostel (shared dorm with shared bathroom)
  • Oxygen tank
 

NOT INCLUDED

  • Transport to Uyuni
  • Sleeping bags (can be rented the morning of the tour during the check-in for 50 Bs per person)
  • Entrance fees - 30 Bs for the Incahuasi Island (if reachable), 150 Bs for the National Park and 6 Bs for the hot springs (subject to change)
  • Water - we recommend you purchase 2 liters per person per day to take with you
  • Breakfast on first day, dinner on last day
  • Sunglasses and sun cream 
  • Additional snacks and beverages
  • Torch - recommended
  • Dropoff at the bus terminal / at the airport at the end of the tour (bus terminal is walking distance whereas for the airport it will be easy for you to catch a taxi from the centre of Uyuni after the end of the tour)
  • Tips

Important Information

  • This tour starts in Uyuni and DOES NOT include the cost of transport for getting there. We can arrange flights, buses and trains for getting to Uyuni - see them all in our Transport section.
  • Low season / high season - This price is the low season price and some years around July / August prices can rise for "high season". We only know when this will happen and by how much when it actually happens and usually it is with just a couple of days notice. This is because it is the decision of the drivers union in Uyuni and not our or the operators. The price rise is usually around 20$ more but we cannot know for sure until the time. For bookings around this time you should book with the low season price and we always try to get the operators to honour advanced bookings at low season price. If they do not we will need to ask for the price difference or, if you don't wish to pay, you can cancel also.
  • Private tours - In order to do this tour as a private tour you would have to pay for 6 people regardless of how many of you there are (this way you are paying for the 6 seats of the car and will have a car just for you). In addition to this, when booking please also write down in the Further Details section that you want a private tour.
  • Pickups and dropoffs - Pickups from the accommodations are not included. If staying overnight in Uyuni, then it will be easy for you to walk to the operator's office in the morning - Uyuni is small and you will have to walk only a few blocks. If arriving by plane, it will be also easy to find a taxi from the airport to the office (15-20 minutes drive). If you arrive by bus, and provide detailed information about the bus you will be on, we will then inform the tour operator about it and someone should meet you at the terminal upon arrival - should you not see anyone (this can happen if the bus gets there much earlier than expected for example and the guide might be not there yet), you can simply make your way to the office, which is going to be at walking distance of a couple of blocks anyway. We will provide detailed information about the office location (and contact details) when we confirm your booking.  You will be dropped off back at the office at the end of the tour.
  • Accommodation - The accommodation for the first night will be in double/triple rooms in a salt hotel, with private bathroom (in most rooms, otherwise it will be shared - depends on availability) and hot water shower, and 24 hours electricity. The second night will be in a basic refuge and whenever possible (usually is the case) the 6 people of your group will share the same room. There will be a shared toilet but no shower. We recommend you take a sleeping bag to use in addition to the provided blankets in the accommodations - this can be rented on the morning your tour departs.
  • Rainy season - Please note that during the rainy season (usually from January to May) the Incahuasi Island and the salt hotel might not be reachable if the salt flats are covered in water. We cannot know this in advance. In case the salt hotel is not reachable, you will spend the first night in a regular accommodation with shared bathroom (and not made of salt).
  • Luggage - Bags are normally stored on top of the car, but the space will be limited and if there are people who will finish their tour in Chile in your group, for obvious reasons they will have the priority. This means that it might be not possible for you to take all your stuff on the tour, and in this case you will have to leave part of your luggage at Red Planet office and will collect it when you get back from the tour. We recommend you have your luggage ready for this evenience (in order to take things out easily etc.) should this be necessary.
  • Group size - Up to 6 customers per car. Usually Red Planet arrange two cars going together: in one car 6 people + 1 driver (not English-speaking), in the other car 5 people + 1 driver + 1 English-speaking guide. The cars will do the tour together and the guide will give an explanation to both groups every time the cars stop.
  • Health and safety - These tours visit very remote areas that have very limited facilities. If you are ill or there is an accident there are no medical facilities other than Uyuni town and even these are basic. If things go wrong you are faced with the reality of travel in a remote area of a developing country. The salt flats tours travel to altitude of around 5000 meters so the majority of people will feel some effects for altitude sickness. We recommend that you should be acclimitized to above 3000 meters before going on these tours and that you take headache tablets, "soroche" (local word for altitude sickness) tablets and any other medications that you may require.
  • Transfer to Chile - If you want to add a transfer to Chile after the tour instead of returning to Uyuni, please see THIS product page.
  • Important - For safety reasons, we won't be accepting bookings for tours starting between December 23rd and January 6th. You can read a more detailed explanation of why we don't do salt flats tours over Christmas/New Year period HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please read through these common questions & answers - if you cant find what you want to know send us your questions using the Ask a Question button

Why don't you do salt flats tours over Christmas/New Year period?

We do not sell any salt flats tours from Dec 23rd through to Jan 6th because of safety concerns. 

Specifically this is due to the high number of incidences of drunk driving that occur on salt flats tours during this time. Some of the companies we work with, for example Red Planet, also completely stop tours during this time for the same reason. We still don't sell tours with any company that we work with that does not stop completely during this period as whilst they are likely to be safer options the fact is there could be drunk drivers from other companies making the area less safe. From experience we think it is best to avoid the dangers and problems that occur this time of year.

Please do not ask us to recommend any companies for tours during this time as we do not recommend anyone for the reasons stated. If you must do a tour (and we understand this is a highlight and it would be bad to miss) we would suggest you do a one day tour only as the 3 day tours are more problematic for the drunk drivers (drivers tend to celebrate in the evening with friends in the local villages near the accommodations). Also keep a close eye on the condition of your driver if you do end up on a tour.

What are the differences between Red Planet/Quechua Connection/Perla de Bolivia/Standard Plus 3-day salt flats tours?
Our salt flats tour options mostly visit and see the same sights but the tours may have* the following differences: 
  • Red Planet: English-speaking guide, sunset on the salt flats, salt hotel on the first night with private bathrooms (most of the rooms, not all of them - salt hotel only during dry season, otherwise will be a regular accommodation), accommodation near the hot springs the second night. This is the operator with the best reputation in Uyuni as they offer consistently good tours and are well established. For that reason they are are virtually always booked in advance and charge more than most other operators. Tours leave every day with Red Planet. Sleeping bag is not included in the price.
  • Quechua Connection: English-speaking guide, sunset on the salt flats, regular hotel on the first night with private bathrooms (most of the rooms, not all of them, and it is not a salt hotel), accommodation near the hot springs the second night. This is another good tour operator that offer tours about the same standard as Red Planet and are growing quickly. During dry season they often include some 30 mins biking on the salt flats as well (conditions permitting). Sleeping bag is included in the price.
  • Perla de Bolivia: English-speaking guide, sunset on the salt flats, salt hotel on the first night with private bathrooms (most of the rooms, not all of them - salt hotel only during dry season, otherwise will be a regular accommodation), hot springs the third day in the morning. This is a new tour operator and we are confident they will get popular soon. They include a visit to the Galaxy and the Devil's Caves in their itinerary as well. Sleeping bag is included in the price.
  • Standard Plus: Spanish-speaking guide, no sunset on the salt flats (they head to the accommodation earlier), salt hotel on the first night with shared bathrooms (shower available for 10 bs - salt hotel only during dry season, otherwise will be a regular accommodation), hot springs the third day in the morning. Sleeping bag is not included in the price.

* We state may have because tour itineraries can change due to external factors so these are typically what is included and i in general the differences are as above but we cannot guarantee this is always the case.

Can I pay to upgrade hotels on the salt flats tours?

In our standard tour offerings we do not offer people the option to be able to upgrade hotels because this would involve taking one part of the group to the standard hotels and others to the upgraded hotel in a different area and therefore two different routes and too much additional driving. We can only offer hotel upgrade options if you are doing a private tour for this reason - please contact us for pricing if you are interested.

What time do salt flats tours start?

Salt flats tours in Uyuni usually start "approximately" 10.00 am to 11 am but this can vary. The reasons it can vary, apart from punctuality not being very common in Bolivia, can be for a number of different things. For example there is only one fuel station in Uyuni and it can be hard to get fuel quickly so drivers might have to queue for long periods to get fuel and this can affect preparations.

We usually request you to be at the local office at 9 AM to do your check-in, but if for example if your flight lands at 9 AM then no problem simply take a taxi to the office and be there as soon as you can - we will let the office now about your flight time and this will be taken into consideration. Also buses or flights arriving to Uyuni late (more common in Rainy season) can affect departure times - if someone in your assigned group is on transport that is late then the operator will try to wait as long as is possible to accomodate that so they can get on the tour that day - obviously there are limits to this and they dont want to wait too much as it effects the rest of the groups tour time. Tours starting in San Pedro usually start earlier around 8-8.30 am.

Where do the Salt Flats Tours start from?

This salt flats tour starts in Uyuni and it does not included the price of getting to Uyuni. We can arrange transport (buses, trains, flights) from La Paz to Uyuni also – please visit out transport section HERE to see some popular options.

How does rainy season affect the Salt Flats Tours?

The Salt Flats (salar de Uyuni) tours leave year round including during the rainy season and in fact many people try to visit during the rainy season in order to see the "mirror effect" of the water sitting atop of the salt flats and reflecting the sky which is an incredible sight. This is caused when the water table below the salt flats has risen enough to cause the water to sit on top of the salt. It is fine to visit the area when there is a certain amount of water but when it becomes too deep (after long sustained periods of rainfall in consectutive days) some places can become inaccesible such as Isla Incahuasi and these must then be omitted from the tours but they can usually continue visiting other parts of the salt flats and the area to the south (the colored lakes, geysers, hot springs etc) are usually not affected so tours are not cancelled completely.

The road between La Paz and Uyuni usually becomes a bit problematic with potholes and other damage caused but the constant rain and is worst in Mar/Apr time. The buses are sometimes cancelled due to this and other forms of transport such as train or flights are recommended or alternatively you can travel via Sucre / Potosi to Uyuni which is a better conditioned road that is less affected.

What altitudes do the salt flats tours visit?

The town of Uyuni and the Salt Flats themselves are around 3700 meters (12139 feet) so 1 and 2 day tours are usually around this altitude only.

For 3 day tours you will visit much higher altitudes with the second nights’ accommodation near the Laguna Colorado area being at around 4300 meters and the Sol de Mañana geothermal field that is visited at around 4900 meters (16076 feet). You may also drive over a pass at  5000 meters (16404 feet), depending on the exact route taken, which will be the highest point.

How many people will be in the vehicle?

On 2,3 and 4 day salt flat tours there will be a maximum of 6 travellers in the vehicle (1 in the front passenger seats, 3 in the  center seat row and 2 in the rear seat row) plus the driver/guide.

On 1 day tours there can be up to 7 people in the vehicle (although usually 6) as the group gets out of the vehicle much more often and comfort is not an issue like it is for the long driving distances of the multi day tours.

Will we stay in a salt hotel?

The planned schedule for this tour on the first night is to stay in a salt hotel and this happens for the majority of the year. During periods when the local conditions are bad (salar too flooded, deep snow in area etc) then a change of route / itinerary might be required and a stay in a salt hotel might not be possible. This would only be known closer to or actually on the departure date

I want to take perspective photos – will there be lots of time & items for me to use?

People enjoy taking the interesting perspective style photos on the salt flats and of course there will be some time to stop and do this.  The exact amount of time is impossible to say as it will depend on a variety of factors such as how long you have taken at previous stops, weather conditions, the group dynamic etc and you also need to bear in mind there is a schedule to keep to so the driver will only allow the amount of time he can in order to keep to the schedule safely.

As for items to use in your photos, some drivers do have some fun items but some wont have anything especially for photo props. The best advice is to take something interesting things yourself so you can get unique shots – let your creative side go crazy!

Can you pick me up from a Colchani salt hotel?

Yes this is possible by prior arrangement, but if you wish to be dropped off back at Colchani after the tour , there will be an extra charge (please ask) as it is not on the standard route as tours return to Uyuni some 30 minutes drive away.

Also, as the train cemetery is near Uyuni town then you would miss this visit out as it takes place before arriving to Colchani

My friend wants to transfer to San Pedro de Atacama but I want to return to Uyuni – can we both be on the same tour?

Yes , that’s not a problem. You would be in the same vehicle for the tour and then near Laguna Verde the people going to San Pedro are transferred to a different transport vehicle at the border and the 4x4 vehicle used for the tour returns to Uyuni with the remaining passengers.
Iif you could inform us of this requirement when booking and give the passengers names so we know who to group together. Of course, the tours have to leave on the same date and each person choose the same tour operator.

Ratings & Reviews

4.83
6reviews
5 star
5
4 star
1
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
Add your review
View all 6 reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
  • 2 of 2 people found the following review helpful

    Overall good experience

    took this tour in July and had a great time. landscapes are just beautiful. a lot of time on the car though, which isn't exactyl ideal. last day also a bit short, basically just return journey to Uyuni town.. but yes overall enjoyed it a lot

    By on

    Comment
    Was this review helpful to you?
  • 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful

    I can't recommend Kanoo Tours enough!

    I can't recommend Kanoo Tours enough! They were amazingly helpful from start to finish and genuinely gave us a holiday to remember.

    We booked the Salt Flats tour from Bolivia and all the way through to Machu Picchu in Peru (including the world's most dangerous road and lake titikaka) and all went without a hitch!

    Thankyou to all at Kanoo Tours!

    By on

    Comment
    Was this review helpful to you?
View all 6 reviews

Booking Form

HOW TO BOOK

Fill in the required details and click "add to cart".You can then continue shopping for more items or click on the "cart" link at the top right hand corner of the page to complete your booking.

IMPORTANT

You must provide details for each passenger that you are booking for and also ensure that you change the qty box to show the correct amount of passengers that you are booking for.

  

* Required Fields